Virtualization differs from the traditional one server/one application environment in that software is run within a virtual environment.
These virtual environments are created when operating systems and applications are emulated, and do not run directly on physical hardware.
In a virtualized environment, you can reduce the amount of servers required – a virtual system allows you to share the physical resources of multiple machines across the entire infrastructure. Applications can then access the shared resources as and when required, resulting in a more efficient system and lower costs.
An example of a typical virtualized environment might see three physical hosts connected to a shared storage device. These hosts provide the processing and memory capacity whilst all data relating to virtual servers is stored on the Storage Area Network.
The virtual infrastructure provides far greater flexibility and extremely high availability from a simpler hardware model with fewer things to go wrong.
A key benefit is that the entire network infrastructure becomes portable – this makes disaster recovery far quicker and more effective.